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Thursday, January 28, 2016

THE CASE FOR NOT EXTENDING THEO EPSTEIN

That was only a bit over four years ago, and Epstein has done a borderline miraculous job of running the Cubs over that span. So I understand why it caused waves, two weeks ago or so, when I suggested on Twitter that the Cubs might be wisest to shelve the much-discussed idea of extending Epstein’s contract beyond 2016, and to move on. As insane and radical as it sounds, though, I still think that. My goal today is to show you why.

—-

The Cubs are going to be very, very good over the next five years. Almost any credible executive can safely guide this team through the next phase of its growth, because the cornerstones (and for that matter, most of the capstones) are in place already. That doesn’t mean that Epstein has outlived his usefulness in Chicago, and the moves he makes between now and the end of the season (a big trade to supplement a World Series hopeful? The most challenging Draft of his tenure? One or two high-profile, or several medium-sized, Cuban amateur additions? Maybe all of the above) will be important. There might be no one better-suited to make them.

Epstein remains an excellent baseball executive, and if he’s here for five more years, the Cubs will profit from his presence. A section of the article on the DARPA model discussed “A special breed of leader,” and many of the attributes listed could be a specific description of Epstein. “They need to have deep technical or scientific knowledge,” the authors write, “be natural risk takers, and be thought leaders who can create a vision that inspires an entire community.” That’s Epstein in a nutshell. The Cubs are the league’s most aggressive, flexible, opportunistic and systematic organization right now, and they owe much of that to Epstein’s leadership.

—-

Epstein is a tremendous front-office talent, but he’d be a very expensive one to retain, and the groundwork he has laid ought to allow even slightly less talented replacements to thrive. It’s not that Epstein doesn’t deserve to enjoy his success, revel in it, or be praised for it long after he leaves. It’s just that the Cubs have a chance to be more than a great team. They have a chance to change baseball for the better, in many ways. Opening up the organization to an entirely new perspective, perhaps even from someone in another field of endeavor altogether, could foment that possibility. In my opinion, before they commit to the second five years with Epstein, the Cubs should seriously consider their alternatives, and be willing to take the risk of changing direction in search of the next mountaintop.


Thursday, January 14, 2016


Thursday, January 07, 2016

The 1998 Indians had a “dream team” front office.

John Hart’s real legacy.

“It’s one of those things you get a sinking feeling,” Hart said. “But we were doing so well and people want to take your guys.”

Success affected the front office in other ways, in O’Dowd’s estimation.

“The culture changed when we got really good,” he said, “because everybody wanted something for themselves within that process, including me. It changed the dynamic of the relationships. Sometimes it’s harder to manage success than failure. When you fail, there’s this bond that ties you all together and creates something special. Once you get special, where do you go from there? I actually think Apple’s going through that now.”

Just as the Indians endured the difficulty of keeping an elite team together on the field after the sell-out streak ended and the robust revenues ran dry, they also saw the front office evolve. As evidenced by Toronto’s hire of Shapiro to run both the business and baseball operations, Cleveland is still regarded in the industry as one of the more collaborative and well-organized offices in the game. A place worth poaching.

But we might never again see a group as jam-packed with GM prospects as that 1998 stash. Hart’s family tree has surely left its mark on baseball, and DePodesta’s bold move to the Browns is extending its influence to the gridiron.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 07, 2016 at 10:16 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: front office, general managers, indians, john hart

Monday, November 09, 2015

Economics degrees proving helpful for those seeking MLB front-office positions: Zack Meisel’s musings | cleveland.com

First prerequisite to become a GM. Having enough money to work as an unpaid/lowly paid intern to get your foot in the door.

1. Role play: Managers no longer need decades of experience. Front-office bigwigs no longer need a major league playing background. Organizational roles are evolving and with that transformation come new criteria.

The role of a president of baseball operations is becoming more prevalent throughout the game. The Indians promoted Chris Antonetti to the position and elevated Mike Chernoff to general manager at the end of the season. Their responsibilities won’t really change. It’s more of a cosmetic title shift.

Dave Dombrowski holds the same position as Antonetti, but with the Red Sox. Theo Epstein does the same with the Cubs. The same goes for Billy Beane with the Athletics, John Hart with the Braves, Andrew Friedman with the Dodgers, Kenny Williams with the White Sox and Walt Jocketty with the Reds.

2. Office space: Here is Chernoff’s explanation as to why that front-office structure has become more common.

“We want to be providing leadership to this organization,” Chernoff said, “but it’s a huge organization when you think about coaches, players, scouts and front office employees, so there’s so much that goes into the information flow and the leadership challenges that the extra role in most front offices now is just a natural evolution of how much there is to do in the game.”

Jim Furtado Posted: November 09, 2015 at 09:54 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: front office, general managers

 

 

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